Here are the winners of the Love Letters Second Anniversary Cotton Contest. And here's today's letter ...
Q: I have been dating my boyfriend for two years. He is very attentive, takes me away on vacation with his family, and is never disrespectful. However, I have a big trust issue that I can't seem to get over.
When we first started dating we got really close really fast. He would text me all day and I just assumed we were exclusive. But I found out that at a party, he hooked up with a girl, who, get this, went shopping with me for my outfit on my first date with him. Go figure! Anyway, I stopped being friends with her. I found out about their hook-up from a friend because we went to a small college and I confronted him. We weren't technically exclusive so I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and continue with things.
Throughout our relationship I have seen his friends cheat on their girlfriends so many times, and I couldn't help but think they would urge my boyfriend to do the same. However, I always thought he was different.
Then I saw a message between my boyfriend and his friend after he started an internship months ago. In the message, he told his friend that a new girl had started working with him and that she was hot, but too bad because she lives with her boyfriend. Well sir, you have a girlfriend too, and it's me! That was the last I heard about her and I don't think anything happened.
He's a big partier and a huge flirt. It's what I love about him -- and fear about him. A few months ago, a friend randomly called me and told me not to trust my boyfriend because he saw him hook up with this girl I used to think he flirted with. I remembered that night and how the next day he came over to my place and didn't say anything to me, just got right back into bed with me. We almost broke up when I found out, but for some reason I decided to keep with it because he begged me not to end it.
My friends all see how much he loves me, and I know it too. It's hard to talk to anyone about it because they just see one side of things, but inside I'm so exhausted from worrying about this. I recently saw a Facebook picture of him dancing with this girl and I keep thinking of all the times he was away with his friends on vacation, what was he really doing?
If he can call me up the next day after he kissed a girl (in front of people we knew) and pretend like nothing happened, how many other times did he do that?
I just want to be free from all those thoughts of him cheating. It could be my own insecurities at this point, but any advice helps.
– Mary, Boston
A: Strike 1: The text to the friend. I mean, it could have been a joke -- my married/committed friends and I certainly kid around about cute new co-workers (not at the Globe, of course) -- but his text rubbed you the wrong way. It didn't seem playful. It's a mini strike.
Strike 2: The call from the friend who told that you that your boyfriend was spotted with someone else. That's a major strike. Major. He did something terrible in front of people you know. So much for never being disrespectful.
Strike 3: The Facebook picture. I mean, come on. At the very least, have the courtesy to de-tag yourself.
I don't doubt that he loves you, Mary, but he's not ready to be in an exclusive relationship. And that's fine. He's young, right? What isn't fine is that he's lying to you about his intentions. What isn't fine is your exhaustion.
You can stay with him, look the other way, and hope that he grows out of this -- or you can do the tough thing and tell him that there's not enough trust to continue the relationship. He'll probably argue with you because he certainly doesn't want to lose you, but pay attention to your gut. And to Facebook. In this case, it speaks the truth.
You're not being paranoid or unnecessarily insecure. You're getting phone calls from people who have seen your boyfriend with others. You're like … Carmela Soprano. That's not cool.
You're tired. Give yourself a break. Being single is actually far less draining than being in a relationship that has you doubting yourself. You said it best -- you want to be free.
Readers? Read her first paragraph and remember that it's not all bad. How can she walk away from the bad without being miserable about losing the good? If she stays with him, will his party attitude eventually go away? Is this an age issue? Is there any reason to stay? Ever received a phone call from a stranger about your partner's bad behavior? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.